Racing in their DNA: Part II - Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
This week we take a look back at the origins of another big team currently on the F1 grid.
If you missed the first part of the series, you can find it here:
Teams come and go from Formula 1, but for some teams, racing is in their DNA and they keep coming back for more.
Paul Stewart Racing
In 1988 Paul Stewart, the son of triple World Champion Jackie, set up Paul Stewart Racing in order to race in Formula 3 from the 1989 season. They had a staff of ten people.
Although their first season was not the success they may have wished for, the team grew and, in 1990 they expanded into a new home in Milton Keynes, The team split themselves across the three disciplines of European Formula 3000, Formula 3 and Formula Vauxhall Lotus. Within a few years, as the team developed, they became more successful and went on to achieve twelve titles and win one hundred and nineteen races across their various Motor Racing categories.
In 1996, with support from Ford, the decision was made to enter Formula One. They launched their first challenger, the Stewart SF01 in December and, Stewart Grand Prix were on the grid in Melbourne for the 1997 Australian Grand Prix.
Drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen (Kevin’s dad) both retired from the race. It would be the third round in Argentina before the team got their first result – a tenth place finish for Jan. Their best result, both in terms of position and in getting two cars to the flag, came at Monaco where they recorded second (Rubens) and seventh (Magnussen). Across the rest of the season, one or both of their cars would retire.
The 1998 season would not fare much better for the team as they again struggled to get into the points. Their best finish across the sixteen races was fifth place at both Monaco and Canada. It was the eventful Canadian race that gave them their best result of the year as they finished fifth and sixth collectively with Magnussen collecting his final Formula One point before being replaced by Jos Verstappen (Max’s dad.)
The change in driver line up didn’t really improve their results and there were as many retirements as finishes across the year.
Verstappen, unimpressed with the Stewart Grand Prix operation and believing that they were favouring Barrichello, left at the end of the season and was replaced by a certain Johnny Herbert who joined from the Sauber-Petronas team.
Gary Anderson joined the team from Jordan, replacing the outgoing Alan Jenkins as Technical Director.
Furthermore, during the summer of 1998, Ford bought Cosworth and they then set about building a completely new engine for the coming season.
The 1999 Stewart SF3 was quick but, at the first race in Australia, showed it was prone to overheating, causing Herbert to retire from the race. Barrichello was forced to start from the pit lane but he did finish the race in fifth. Both cars’ engines blew up during the next round in Brazil, despite having led for several laps of the race.
Barrichello picked up three third place finishes across the season but the best result for the team came at the European Grand Prix. It was held at the revised Nürburgring where Johnny Herbert won in the wet, with Rubens finishing in third.
The turnaround in form for the team led to them finishing the season fourth in the Constructor’s Championship. However the 1999 Japanese Grand Prix would be their last race, as Ford bought the team before going on to re-brand it for the coming season.
Jaguar Racing F1 Team
Although there was no actual Jaguar engineering involvement in the eponymously named race team, Ford chose the name as a means of marketing their luxury car brand, though they kept the Cosworth engines.
Now under the management of Wolfgang Reitzle, then head of the Ford Premier Automotive Group, the team benefitted from the financial aspect of being a works team. They hired former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine to join Johnny Herbert. But, as has been shown before in F1, money couldn’t buy results and they ended the season in ninth.
In 2001 Reitzle was replaced by Bobby Rahal. Despite even his proven pedigree, the situation failed to improve. Niki Lauda was brought in mid-season, though his appointment was not entirely popular within the factory. Neither was the failed attempt to lure Adrian Newey away from McLaren to bolster the Milton Keynes squad. The relationship between Lauda and Rahal fell apart and Bobby resigned. Lauda then recruited Günther Steiner to be the new Managing Director, with responsibility for engineering.
On track, Irvine was able to claim third in Monaco, his and the teams’ best result of the season.
During 2002 the results got, if anything, worse – Irvine retired from ten of the seventeen rounds, whilst new teammate, Pedro de la Rosa was only able to finish eight races. Ford were not happy with the costs involved when weighed against the limited rewards, particularly as the cars bore no mention of the Ford brand. A review of the expense led to team funding being reduced for the 2003 season.
As a result of the reduction in funding, the team were given the ultimatum of having two years to improve and show the benefits to Ford of continuing the race operation. In addition, Lauda and seventy other staff were released. The shake-up appeared to have worked as the team saw an improvement in their form, coupled with a better and more efficient (in terms of time and money) use of resources – not least the decision to use a wind tunnel near the factory rather than the previously used one in California. It’s the little things. New drivers Mark Webber and Antônio Pizzonia (who was replaced after ten rounds by Justin Wilson) secured the team seventh place in the Constructors' Championship.
2004 would be Jaguar's final season. The team, again unable to get into the points consistently, finished seventh place in the Constructors' Championship.
The team profile was raised by two factors during the season – when for the Monaco Grand Prix, in a promotional tie-up with the “Ocean’s Twelve” film, the noses of both cars were studded with diamonds. It was suggested that, when Christian Klien crashed his car on the first lap, one of the diamonds went missing, though this claim may have just been more for publicity than accuracy.
Elsewhere, two of the team's mechanics, having won an inflatable donkey, chose to photograph it around the paddock at many of the races and then set up a website for the pictures. After the Brazilian Grand Prix at the end of the season, Bernie Ecclestone, Max Mosley, much of the sport's management, and most of the driver’s signed the donkey, with the mechanics announcing their intention to auction it on eBay and donate the proceeds to charity.
Ford chose to sell the operation near the end of 2004 despite a more consistent showing in its previous two years.
BBC Sport reported that Ford asked bidders for a symbolic US$1 in return for a commitment to invest US$400 million in the team over three Grand Prix seasons.
Red Bull Racing
In mid-November 2004, Red Bull confirmed that they had purchased the Jaguar Formula One team as an ongoing outfit. The team was again renamed, becoming Red Bull Racing, and for its first season, used the chassis and the Cosworth engine that would have been Jaguar's 2005 Formula 1 challenger.
Red Bull had been long-term partners with Sauber but after buying a Formula One team of its own, ended their relationship with the Swiss based team.
Christian Horner was installed as the new team boss and lined up David Coulthard to join the squad.
Ex-McLaren driver Coulthard, chosen for his experience, would be the lead driver as he was considered ideal to help lead the fledgling team. For the second car, Red Bull shared the drive between two of its young sponsored drivers: Christian Klien, who had driven for Jaguar in 2004 and the F3000 2004 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi. The initial plan was for the two young drivers’ to swap driving duty every four races, but by the end of the season Liuzzi had appeared only four times.
Red Bull's first year in Formula One was a tremendous success compared to the former Jaguar Racing entry. They were sixth in the Constructors' Championship for most of the season, only beaten by the fast-improving BAR Hondas at the end of the season. In a single season they amassed more points than Jaguar had in 2003 and 2004 combined.
American driver Scott Speed, a product of the American Red Bull Driver Search, was brought in as Red Bull Racing's third driver for the 2005 Canadian and United States Grands Prix. Speed’s American nationality, would, they hoped, raise the profile of both Red Bull and Formula One in North America.
In April 2005, the team announced that they were dropping the Cosworth engine after securing a deal to use Ferrari engines in 2006. Following a rule change and the move to V8 engines, it seemed that both Red Bull Racing and Ferrari would use the same specification engine.
As the team progressed through the year, they made more changes to the team structure to prepare for the coming seasons’ challenges and in November they hired Adrian Newey, from McLaren. He would prove to be an instrumental piece to the puzzle.
In December they launched their competitor for the 2006 season, the Red Bull RB2. Although Coulthard made positive noises about the new offering, in early testing it was plagued with cooling and overheating issues.
At the opening race of the 2006 season in Bahrain, Coulthard finished tenth in the race. His Ferrari engine expired on the cool down lap, leading to a grid penalty for the following race. In Malaysia, Coulthard, starting from the back, made up several places before he was forced to retire with hydraulic problems. Klien had a first lap incident with Räikkönen and, pitting for repairs also retired with hydraulic failure.
In Monaco, possibly inspired by Christian Horner’s statement before the race that if one of his cars were to finish on the podium, he would jump into a swimming pool at the track naked, Coulthard finished third -the team's first podium finish. Horner, true to his word, ended up jumping into the pool wearing only a red cape.
Monaco obviously held something special for the team, as in their previous guises of both Stewart Grand Prix and Jaguar Racing; the teams had also scored their maiden podiums in the Principality.
The team finished seventh in the FIA Constructors' Championship, five points ahead of Williams.
2007 saw the debut of Red Bull Racing's first Adrian Newey designed car, the RB3. The team having already announced that they would use Renault engines for the 2007 season, moved their Ferrari contract to the sister Scuderia Toro Rosso team.
Also, for the new season, the team revised its’ driver line-up and brought in Mark Webber alongside David Coulthard. Robert Doornbos became the team's third driver for 2007.
A fuel flap problem led to Webber finishing in thirteenth place, while Coulthard crashed with the Williams of Alexander Wurz late in the race. Coulthard secured the team's first points by scoring a gritty fifth with a faulty gearbox in Spain, while Webber was dogged with hydraulic problems all weekend, eventually retiring from the race.
During the summer the team added Geoff Willis to their technical department as Technical Director.
Red Bull had a strong end to the season and they finished the 2007 Constructors' Championship in fifth.
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull retained both drivers for 2008 and announced that Sébastien Buemi would be joining the team as the test and reserve driver, combining these duties with his GP2 drive with the Arden International GP2 team – which Horner had set up in 1997.
At the half-way mark, the team had gathered twenty-four points – the same as their total for the 2007 season and had finally resolved their reliability problems. However, as the season progressed, Red Bull scored just five points in the last ten races. Toro Rosso – the Red Bull 'B team' – won the rain-affected Italian Grand Prix, becoming the first Red Bull-owned team to win a race.
Coulthard announced at that year’s British Grand Prix his retirement from Formula One at the end of the season. He would be replaced by Sebastian Vettel, promoted from the Toro Rosso team.
In Part XIII, we take a look at the four time World Champion who ushered in an era of Red Bull dominance.
The RB5 gave the team their first-ever win in 2009 with Sebastian Vettel taking the flag and Webber second in China. At the next race at Bahrain, Vettel finished second behind Jenson Button – a position that would be repeated in the Drivers' Championship. The team also finished second in the Constructors' Championship with 153.5 points, 18.5 points behind Brawn GP.
For 2010 the team retained both Webber and Vettel, with Renault remaining the engine supplier.
At the Turkish Grand Prix, Webber took pole position, taking the team's run of pole positions to seven consecutive races, with Vettel third on the grid. After their pit stops, Webber and Vettel were running first and second until, on lap forty, Vettel attempted to overtake Webber, leading to a collision between the two. Webber finished third, while Vettel was forced to retire. Neither driver took 100% of responsibility.
At the Brazilian Grand Prix in São Paulo, Red Bull Racing became Constructors' Champion for the first time after Vettel and Webber finished 1–2 in the race - the first Austrian team to win the Formula One Constructors' Championship. Team boss Christian Horner stated that the main goal had been achieved and that now his remaining aim was to win the Drivers' Championship and put the icing on the cake of Red Bull's year.
In the final race at Abu Dhabi, Sebastian Vettel won the race and the Formula 1 Drivers' Championship.
Both drivers were retained by the team for the 2011 season, as was Renault.
Vettel defended his world title and the team also defended their Constructors' Championship title, 153 points ahead of the next closest team, McLaren. Red Bull Racing was joined by Infiniti as an official partner for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Vettel and Webber continued with the team. Mark was on a one-year contract extension and Sebastian under his on-going multi-year agreement, which still had another two years to run. Vettel won the Drivers' Championship for a third consecutive time in 2012, making him the youngest triple World Champion, surpassing Ayrton Senna.
The team was renamed Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the 2013 season and again extended Webber’s contract for another year.
At the first race of the season in Australia, Vettel put the new RB9 on pole, but in the race could only finish third with Webber in sixth place. In Malaysia, Vettel was again on pole and won the race, albeit after disobeying team orders. Despite the 1–2 result, the race was overshadowed by his actions.
Sebastian Vettel extended his contract with Infiniti Red Bull Racing until the end of 2015, despite interests in racing for Ferrari and Mercedes. At the British Grand Prix, Mark Webber announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of the season and it was announced before the Italian Grand Prix that Daniel Ricciardo would move up from the Toro Rosso team for the 2014 season. The team announcement ended suggestions that Kimi Räikkönen would be moving from Lotus to take Webber's seat.
At the Indian Grand Prix, Vettel sealed the Drivers' Championship title, and in doing so, won the Constructors' Championship for Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the fourth consecutive year.
It became clear in pre-season testing, that the 2014 Renault power unit, used by Red Bull and other teams, was down on power when compared to the Ferrari and Mercedes engines. Renault were having issues getting the new hybrid engine elements to function together properly throughout testing.
Ricciardo would go on to obtain the first podium finish of his career as a Formula One driver at the Spanish Grand Prix and in Canada he won the race, achieving his first career victory in Formula One.
At the Japanese Grand Prix, Red Bull announced that Vettel would leave the team at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
Ricciardo stayed with the team for 2015 and was joined by Daniil Kvyat, who had moved over from the Red Bull junior team after just one season.
It was the first winless season for Infiniti Red Bull since 2008 and by the end of the season, Red Bull wanted to end the Renault partnership. However, they were unable to come to an agreement to have another engine and instead settled for running Renault engines for the 2016 season rebadged as TAG-Heuer.
They ended the season in fourth place, their lowest finish position in seven years.
For 2016, Red Bull Racing as they had become again after the departure of the Infiniti brand, announced that they had formed a new technology partnership with Aston Martin.
At the Chinese Grand Prix, Red Bull recorded their first podium of the season with Daniil Kvyat finishing third, before then being returned to the Toro Rosso team by the Red Bull management. He was replaced by Max Verstappen who had moved in the opposite direction before the next round, the Spanish Grand Prix. Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix, becoming the youngest ever Grand Prix winner.
Overall, 2016 was a stronger season for Red Bull Racing than 2015. Ricciardo was pushed more by Verstappen than by Kvyat. Red Bull Racing finished second in the Constructors' Championship.
For 2017, Red Bull Racing kept Daniel and Max and continued using TAG Heuer-branded Renault engines and finished third in the Constructors' Championship.
Ricciardo and Verstappen were again retained by the team for the 2018 season. By the French Grand Prix, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing (as they were now called), encouraged by the progress of Honda in the sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso, confirmed they were to use Honda power units from 2019 to 2020, signing a two-year deal, it would officially end its relationship with Renault.
During August it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo would be leaving the team at the end of the season, Pierre Gasly was promoted from Toro Rosso to replace him.
Red Bull would finish the season in third place behind Mercedes and Ferrari.
The team entered the twenty one race 2019 season with Verstappen and Gasly and new Honda power, the Dutchman quickly developing his knowledge and use of the new Honda power unit – he finished in the top five in each of the season’s first eight races.
In a shock move, in the run up to the Belgian Grand Prix, the Red Bull management announced that the team were replacing Pierre Gasly with the F1 rookie Alexander Albon. On his debut with the senior team, Albon finished fifth at Spa and was in the top six at every other race except Brazil. Thanks to their joint results, at the end of the season, the team had secured third place in the Constructors' Championship.
When Formula 1 does return in 2020(?), Red Bull will surely be looking to do everything they can to get back on top of the F1 throne currently dominated by Mercedes.